Wednesday, November 23, 2011

three methods...

Baked burritos
Charles A. Bennett in his 1917 book The Manual Arts, describes three important methods of teaching manual arts. The first is the imitative method. He states,
"Imitation is instinctive, and the teacher who does not utilize this natural force fails to avail himself of one of his strongest allies."
Every teacher of handwork knows "that the easiest and quickest way to get a boy to hold and use a tool correctly is to show him how to do it. Often it is not necessary to speak a word; to do the thing in his presence is sufficient."

The second method is that of Discovery or the "heurisic" method. Bennett quotes Charles Bird, Supervisor of Manual raining in Leicester, England.
"It will hardly be denied that the normal child possesses in a marked degree such characteristics as curiosity, inquisitiveness, a love of prying into things, of questioning and doubting, which are frequently amusing and sometimes embarrassing... It is these characteristics, so preeminent in their importance as assets in after life, which a reasonable system of education handwork can stimulate and strengthen. For this purpose the children must be allowed to depend upon their own thought and judgement in doing things."
I think that you can see that there must be a natural balance between showing things and knowing when you are showing too much, as part of the process of teaching is that of preparing the ground for children to make discoveries of their own.

The third method Bennett describes as the "Inventive" method. According to Bennett,
"The inventive method places the worker in a relation to his work that is entirely different from that in the imitative method. It places him in the position of a master, of a person with authority and power to control. If a student is working from a blueprint or other working drawing given him by the teacher, he is expected to follow the drawing exactly in material and form and dimensions... if he has designed or invented the piece he is making, he is the guiding force in the work; he can change material or form or dimension. His own ideas are to be carried out, not those of some other man, except, of course, as he takes advice from the teacher."
Bennett notes that all three of these methods are important and should be balanced in the course of instruction. The purely imitative method alone can be rigid, oppressive and uninspiring. The discovery method or the inventive method alone without the foundation of imitative instruction can lead to poor workmanship and deficient products.
"If the schools are to produce citizens with (a) skill, (b) initiative and (c) power to think for themselves--those who can follow directions efficiently or can invent a better way, all three methods must be employed in teaching the manual arts in schools."
You will possibly notice that skill, initiative and power to think creatively are often lacking in the graduates of American education. We need to bring back wood shops and teach in the three methods that Bennett describes.

Apple and pumpkin
Today I was off from school to prepare for Thanksgiving. I'll was in the wood shop for a short time, and then baked pies and baked burritos for dinner as you can see in the photos above. The baked burritos are imitations of one I ate in a restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin. The pies are from recipes in Joy of Cooking. In my case, everything in the kitchen is related to all three methods of learning, a bit of imitation, a bit of discovery and a bit of invention.

Make, fix, create... (and eat)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:16 AM

    The pies and burritos look excellent! Have a great Thanksgiving.